Some of my favorite memories are of my earliest years in this world. Many loving people were involved in the formative years and in the slow, but sure development of my personality. One of the first, of course, my mother, Barbara Cooke. How I loved to sit at her feet in front of our sofa and adoringly admire her beautiful, colorful cowboy boots, guitar and her singing voice………and why not? After all, before I came along, she played guitar and sang on a radio show in Minneapolis along with two of her girlfriends! (Back in the 1940s in Minneapolis, MN.) It was through her love for music that she’d met my father, Gordon Guy, who taught music at the Gould School of Music she’d attended. Both were gifted musicians. Soon they married and a year later, I was born. I was to be a winter baby. I’ve since wondered whether or not that could have anything to do with my deep love for the changing seasons here…………..especially, the snow. Needless to say, though I’ve visited many other climates, I always come home to treasure our changing seasons here in Minnesota.

Without going into unpleasant happenings, suffice to say that my mother and father were divorced when I was five years old. Mom, my sister Patty and I went to live with our grandparents in Kasota, Minnesota. It was there that I attended kindergarten. I then transferred to John Ireland Catholic (private) school in St. Peter, Minnesota. Patty and I were bussed to school from first grade forward. I’m still able to recall nearly every detail of the tiny Kasota Post Office where Dear Mr. and Mrs. Barklow permitted Patty and I to wait inside for our school bus each morning. They were very kind postmasters, indeed – for there were some bitterly cold winter school days!

Prior to my parents divorce, I’d loved so much to travel to my grandparent’s home in Kasota. My gra’ma (Theresa Spokes-Carpenter) always permitted me to rush (immediately upon our arrival there) into her bedroom where I’d spend entire afternoons viewing her beautiful colored broaches and other colorful, sparkly jewelry. (To this day my mother expresses amazement at her mother’s always allowing me this apparently rare privilege!) I often recall to mind,with deep fondness, those special visits.

As daddy would turn the corner by Jim Klein’s garage, the railroad tracks a few blocks up ahead would come into view in the distance and I’d screech with delight that we were finally, almost there. Approximately one block from the railroad track crossing that sat on a tiny black-oil covered hill, our old car would leave the pavement onto the dusty, dirt road. My head would fill with fragrances of the many different colored wild flowers lining the small country road as daddy would cross over those tracks being careful to make a very sharp left-hand turn at the top of the tiny hill. He’d had to do so in order to make it down onto grandpa’s long driveway. I haven’t any idea how in the world my mother and father withstood Patty and my screeching with excitement and delight as he’d round the curve and pull up to Granpa’s old, unpainted grey garage. Out the car doors Patty and I would fly and into Gra’ma’s waiting arms. Thinking back, it seems to me that their house had always felt far more like home to me than anyplace else on earth. How I treasured those visits.

Then, it came time for mom, Patty and I to move into Gra’ma and Grandpa’s house. I was just about to begin kindergarten. Yes, I still recall my kindergarten teacher’s name, Mrs. Kruse. I remember the kindergarten sandbox and the small rug upon which I napped each afternoon there. The Kasota School was very old and very large. I still recall feeling extremely intimidated as I’d enter that old building and the smell of an aging structure mingled with a strong air deodorizing fragrance the janitor always used.

It was difficult for Gra’ma and Grandpa to adjust to having children around all the time and so mama managed to purchase a tiny, old, trailer house in which we resided for a time right next to Gra’ma and Granpa’s house. That didn’t last long due to the floor eventually starting to tear away from the rest of the tiny structure where the three of us shared one tiny bedroom. Soon, Patty and I were to sleep each night at Gra’ma’s house in her one of two bedrooms upstairs. That was okay with Patty and I! We loved that big old house. I recall that my grandparents had no indoor plumbing when we initially moved there. Patty and I would have to walk out to an old outhouse at the edge of yard. Funny…………….I don’t recall ever feeling afraid. Gra’ma had a hand water pump that was attached to her single, large kitchen sink where we would draw water to heat for baths in the old, square metal tub that otherwise hung out on the outside wall of the garage. In retrospect, it’s a good thing that Patty and I were small because that old metal tub certainly wasn’t very big! I also recall our excitement the day that Gra’ma and Grandpa had indoor plumbing installed for the first time…….what an exciting event! Of course, one part of that project meant having to add a bathroom onto the house!

At the edge of Gra’ma and Grandpa’s front yard was an enormous horse pasture owned by the Vogts, as well as a bull pasture which abutted the horse pasture. Patty and I grew up playing in those two wonderful old partially wooded areas. Our childhood there was the kind of childhood all children should be gifted to enjoy. Our grandfather (LaVerne Carpenter) kept chickens and goats in a small building that was attached to his garage. We’d brought our Collie, Rex there with us and played with Rex, Gra’ma’s Collie, Margo and Heidi the goat as well as many litters of kittens who kept surprising us in litters. It was truly every child’s paradise. Mere words cannot do justice describing the feelings of exhiliration we experienced there; where each new sunrise offered another adventure.

There were many afternoons when I went to visit a little elderly couple across the railroad tracks from Gra’ma’s house. Mrs. Rollings wasn’t very well and so she seldom came out of the bedroom, but Mr. Rollings always seemed excited to see me and to have someone with whom to visit. Even at that young age, I sensed their loneliness. So, every afternoon, Mr. Rollings would cook me a well rounded lunch ever so enthusiastically. It wasn’t until many years later that my sister, Patty, reminded me of the card Mr. Rollings gave me when they’d had to leave their tiny home. The words he’d written inside the card, still bring a tear to my eye: “To the little girl who never forgot.” I will always remember them with deep love and affection.

Then there was my aunt Evelyn Stolt who lived a couple of blocks from Gra’ma’s house, my uncle Ray and my then four cousins, David, Irene, Sylvia and Judy. Mama didn’t have very much money and so many times when Evelyn bought new clothing or shoes for my cousins, she’d also buy some for Patty and I. They eventually moved out onto a farm in the country where I would later spend many of my summer months embarking upon countless adventures in the woods outside their house.

Not so wonderful for our mother however, who, until she could pay for an automobile had to walk the railroad tracks three miles to work each day come rain or shine. Mama had a hard life. She was finally able to obtain a nurse’s aide job at the St. Peter State Hospital and soon she was able to buy a tiny, humble house about two blocks away from our grandparent’s house. I was eight years old when we moved to into our own house. It’s funny………….I wanted that house so badly that I still remember the name of the couple from whom we purchased it: Bill and Audrey Palmer. Mama used to have to make her monthly payments to a man named Bert French who always came to pick up her payments wearing a very large stoned ring. I’d always thought that his ring was beautiful.

Mama had to work most of the time and so Patty and I had the run of the house from a very young age. We managed not to get into any real trouble but I do remember skipping school a few times to play outdoors all day long in the snow! Our neighbor, Anna Nordeen, finally told on us after one afternoon that Patty and I had spent leaping from the roof of her garage over onto the roof of OUR garage! Dear me………

I can recall making many, many exciting discoveries in the woods outside our yard growing up and even IN our yard. But the discovery that made a more lasting impression in my mind, was one night while playing outdoors after dark in some fairly deep, new fallen snow. I was standing underneath a street light gazing down at the perfect, soft snow surrounding me, when I realized that it was as if there were trillions of tiny diamond chips sprinkled throughout that snow. It’s beauty was the first to ever steal my breath away. I have loved watching the first snow fall of each Minnesota winter ever since.

Because mama had to be at work so much of the time to support our little family of three, I soon made friends with some incredibly wonderful young wives who provided me with a sort of second home. Not so coincidentally, those young women were Marlene and Pat, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Barklow, the kind postmasters who’d always allowed Patty and I to wait inside their post office for our school bus. Pat, in particular (who still resides on the same property with her husband, Daryll as they did way back then) always made me feel welcome for a bite to eat, a t.v. to watch and a surrogate sort of mother to talk to. By the time I was nine years old, I was babysitting for the Gerbers. Bless their hearts. Yes, they are still in my life today and to this day I still thank God for their loving friendship.

So, you see, the making of me required a lengthy recipe of lots of loving people combined with lots of great places to spend time together.

Copyright by JC Fredlund (was JC Eberhart) 2006:

© JC Eberhart and JC Eberhart’s Blog, 1974 – 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to JC Eberhart and JC Eberhart’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



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